The founder and former CEO of UK sport betting giant Paddy Power, Stewart Kenny, had lobbied against the introduction of FOBTs (fixed-odds betting terminals) in Ireland, UK news outlet The Times reveals. Namely, Kenny was revealed to have written to the government of Ireland warning them about FOBTs back at 2009, when they were yet to be introduced in the country, calling the machines “dangerously addictive.
The UK sport betting provider now operates approximately 350 betting shops across Ireland and nearly 1,400 FOBT machines that bring Paddy Power around £93 million (or $117 million) in annual profit. But despite the gambling terminals offering great benefits to the company, Kenny still felt they were against the greater good, according to recent findings.
In his letter to the government, which The Times picked up, he writes of gambling terminals as being especially attractive to young gamblers from disadvantaged locations in Ireland. According to him, there were no demands from the public to introduce FOBTs in the country, apart from the gambling sector, and that it was in no one’s interest that the government decided to do so. He also warned that should the machines be legalized, it would be impossible to remove them or subdue their addictiveness, as the UK gambling sector had already shown.
The UK government has been trying to put a leash on FOBTs and advertising practices during the last months, with their latest effort being to launch a review process on allowed bet sizes and promotional campaigns that target “vulnerable” categories. The review was, normally, met with criticism from the Association of British Bookmakers who said that the machines had no notable effect on problem gambling, and voiced concerns of being forced to close betting shops due to possible losses resulting from the FOBT crackdown.